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Maria Miller should resign or be sacked

Maria MillerIt is shocking that Cameron, who has repeatedly said in the past that he is cleaning up on MPs’ expenses, now says he is giving “very warm support” to Maria Miller, the disgraced secretary of state for culture, media and sport. Miller, a haughty Tory lady of the grande dame variety, became an MP in 2005 and designated a house in Wimbledon as her second home (and thus eligible under parliamentary expenses) on the grounds that she spent most of her time in a rented house in her constituency (Basingstoke). She then made claims for 4 years on the Wimbledon home, but stopped claiming when the expenses scandal broke in 2009.

The Commons committee on standards in their report just published found that she had over-claimed on her mortgage. The standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, recommended that Miller be made to pay back more than £44,000. The Commons committee on standards, for reasons not disclosed, did not support Hudson’s recommendation. Instead they merely criticised Miller for frustrating the investigation for over a year by declining to give direct answers to questions about her claims for taxpayers’ money. They ordered her to repay just £5,800. Then to cap it all, her ‘apology’ to the House of Commons on Thursdaywhich was minimalist (30 seconds), did not even mention the money she had been ordered to repay, and from her manner clearly lacked sincerity.

One has to ask why the Commons standards committee took such a lenient view. Kathryn Hudson had made the case that Miller claimed for mortgage interest against a mortgage significantly larger than one required to purchase her property. She also further increased her mortgage without the Commons authorities knowing this or agreeing to it. And Hudson also added that she should not have designated her London home as her second home. Miller also, with typical arrogance, also challenged Hudson’s right to seek details about her mortgage.

So why did the Commons standards committee not back their own commissioner’s report? On 13 December 2012 the Commons committee on standards and privileges was replaced by a committee on standards and a separate committee of privileges. The same MPs are members of both committees, but the committee on Standards has 3 additional lay members. The members of this committee are: Kevin Barron (chair, Labour), Paul Beresford (Tory), Robert Buckland (Tory), Christopher Chope (Tory), Tom Clarke (Labour), Geoffrey Cox (Tory), Sharon Darcy (lay), Nick Harvey (LibDem), Peter Jinman (lay), Walter Rader (lay), Helen Wheeler (Tory), and Alan Whitehead (Labour). Thus there are 5 Tory members, 3 Labour, 1 LibDem, and 3 lay members. It would be interesting to know how they divided in their opinions.

This is not the first time that questions have been asked about the judgements of this committee. The former Labour MP Denis McShane was prosecuted for wrongly claiming £12,000 (which he repaid) while the LibDem MP David Laws falsely claimed £40,000 which, as was said at the time, “went straight into the pocket of his partner”. Yet whereas was forced to resign his seat and faces imprisonment, Laws is now back in government. McShane was the subject of a damning report by the Commons standards and privileges committee (referred to by Private Eye as ‘the double standards committee’) and it seems clear that the Crown Prosecution Service, having previously told McShane that he would face no further action, changed its mind solely on the basis of the standards and privileges committee report.

Some searching questions are in order about this committee: how it is chosen, what influences are brought to bear on it, on what grounds it disowns its own commissioner’s reports, and how it appears to reach such inconsistent judgements.

9 Comments

  1. Mark Webster says:

    Yes – of course she should be sacked. But is this worth so much of your attention, other than as a means of exposing Cameron’s serial bad judgement ? It’s easy to focus on these issues as they are so visible , but a few grand is really insignifcant in these times of rampant cronyism.

    There are more important issues to focus on.

    Any comments Michael on Lord Warner ?

  2. John Reid says:

    I recall Frank Field saying something about paying bonds into the NHS, 20’years ago,as if we can’t afford things that we have to pay for now in the hS like glasses or dental charges,it would be sensible to give money now,knowing that when our health goes, we may need to have put money for those things after a rainy day, as when we are older retired,need to use the NHS more we’d have put money to one side, i recall working as a porter at the NHS in the 90’s all the nurses there backed labour,and they all thought that field was right,

  3. swatantra says:

    This Coalition don’t give a damn about maintaining Standards of people in the public eye; they abolished the Standards Board; they have kicked Leveson into the long grass; and they’ve allow ex-PMs to make millions after they’ve left Office.
    Maria Millar should go.

  4. Robert says:

    John you and Field are about the same why your in Labour is a mystery to most people. Your a Tory plain and simple.

    She thought she could get away with it and now she has been found out, simple will she resign I suspect so within the next week or so.

    But she will move to the back benches and live out her life like Brown doing sod all.

  5. John Reid says:

    Robert, I’m not like field at all, Filed I believe is in Labour as he disagreed with the Tories on Aparthied, and Section 28′ having re read my post I dint actually recall saying I agreed with field, but said some nurses I worked with agreed with something similar, as for you robert calling me a Tory, you’ve been saying this for 5 years, you’re not even a Labour member, isn’t this getting a bit like trolling,

  6. Robert says:

    true I learned my lesson as I waited for ATOS and Blair to open up concentration camps.

    But you John are a new labour Tory and sadly these days your have a new leader of the Progress group.

    Miliband has been taken over by the Progress group, he is another of the hard working who has never worked.

    A total worthless careerist

  7. Billy says:

    I’m not sure that Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell would be happy to know that she’s been left of Michael’s list of committee members. Bit shoddy considering the committee list isn’t exactly difficult to find.

  8. Morag Dobbie says:

    She should resign!

  9. Morag Dobbie says:

    Now she should be made to pay back the money she defrauded the public of!,,,,
    I have not said this before – I merely said she should resign!,,

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